The Syrian army said on Saturday it has seized control of a key road linking the central province of Hama to Aleppo international airport, scene of weeks of fierce battles with rebel fighters.
The capture of the road will allow the army to deploy fresh reinforcements and send supplies to the area near the airport, where fighting has raged since mid-February.
“In collaboration with honourable citizens, troops carried out a special operation and restored security and stability to villages on the airport road,” the military said in a statement published by state news agency SANA.
“This achievement shows the commitment of our forces to continue to fulfil their sacred national duty, repelling killings and aggression targeting our people and our country,” said the statement.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the report and said the army will now be able to deploy fresh troops and supplies in the area and the nearby Nayrab military airport.
Rebels launched last month an all-out assault on several airports in Aleppo province, including the international airport and Nayrab, which are located southeast of Syria’s second-largest city.
They have since captured Al-Jarrah military airport as well as several other air defence complexes and nearby checkpoints.
But Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said that if the army succeeds in keeping control over the road “it will change the course of battles” around Aleppo and Nayrab airports “and even Aleppo”, Syria’s second city.
While rebels have taken over large swathes of territory and a number of key military garrisons in Aleppo province, fighting in the city has been at stalemate for months.
Abdel Rahman said that clashes around the airport road continued despite the army’s capture.
Aleppo international airport has been closed since the start of the year.